6 Things ‘Gaslit’ Fans Might Not Know About The Building Where The Watergate Scandal Happened

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Even looking Gas lighting, those of us born after a certain year may not fully realize that before the Watergate scandal of 1972, not all controversies were labeled with the suffix “gate”. If not for Richard Nixon’s Original Sin, we would never have had “donutgate” (when Ariana Grande was caught on security camera licking a tray of pastries in a donut shop), “deflategate” (when the New England Patriots were charged with deflating footballs during a 2015 league game), and everything in between.

The miniseries (on Starz) chronicles the events leading up to articles of impeachment against Nixon and his eventual resignation, which was seen in the season finale on June 12. Julia Roberts plays Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell and an unrecognizable Sean Penn. plays her husband John Mitchell, former Nixon Attorney General and leader of his 1972 re-election campaign.

Obviously, the scandal left quite an important political and linguistic legacy, but those unfamiliar with the saga may also not realize that it all started with a real estate development that itself has an important architectural legacy. The scandal was named after the 10-acre compound in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where five men were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee office in an attempt to plant listening devices and steal information on behalf of Nixon. The 50th anniversary of the burglary is June 17.

Gas lighting tells the story with a new lens focusing on the characters. The show explores the Mitchells’ complicated marriage, White House attorney John Dean’s (Dan Stevens) budding romance with a flight attendant named Mo (Betty Gilpin), and how the building’s security guard at the Watergate Frank Wills (Patrick Walker) faced life in the spotlight after calling the police during the burglary and becoming a pseudo-celebrity.

Set designer Daniel Novotny, set designer Jennifer Lukehart and assistant set designer Jill Carvalho recreated the Watergate six-building complex for the show on a soundstage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, but the show isn’t heavy on spelling geography of all. “The director chose not to dwell on it too much because it takes too much explaining,” Novotny said. AD.

Since Watergate’s architectural significance is so often overshadowed, we thought we’d compile some design-focused facts about where the infamous scandal happened. Below are five things the show doesn’t reveal about the actual Watergate complex.

It was the first mixed-use development in the District of Columbia

An aerial view of the Watergate complex.

Photo: Phototreat
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